where the writers are
The two...er...three...er...four? days of Christmas

I'm amazed that we still continue to pull it off; my family is all together again for the holidays, or approximately so. I say approximately because most of the celebrating will be over when Christmas Day dawns; I will have been at work for a good two hours or so on the occasion of that particular dawn, and My Own Dear Personal Sister will be hustling and bustling to get her baggage and her self ready for an attempted flight home to Portland, OR with the help of my parents. But we'll all still be in the same city...

Due to travel arrangements, my work schedule and my sister's, the bulk of our family festivities took place last night, Dec. 23rd, aka Christmas Eve Eve. We had prime rib and Yorkshire pudding for dinner and pumpkin pie for dessert and took a drive around Saratoga to look at the lights (sadly, not so many this year; I don't think it's so much of a lack of Christmas spirit as a lack of people to hang 'em and turn 'em on; as time has gone by more and more of the residents of this fine little town have decided to go snowbird -- or have had grandchildren somewhere exotic like Nevada or Iowa and gone off to play Santa there), then snuggled up to watch another MWAC (Mountain West Athletic Conference -- the one to which our dear but oft-beleaguered Wyoming Cowboys belong) team hurl itself up against the undefeated Boise State Broncos in a weirdly-named bowl game (obviously I've forgotten the name -- and obviously I'm writing under the gun so I shan't bother to dig it up. It's a bowl game involving two conferences few of you have heard of, suffice to say) and WIN!!! Then came Gift Exchange, Round 2 (Round 1 having taken place with Punk Martha Stewart and Suzitchka Mea the night before at our annual chick musical extravaganza better known as Wine, Women and Chocolate unless we decide to make it Beer, Bhtches and Brats), in which all of the gifts my parents and sister brought to the party got opened and marveled over. I made out very well with kitchenware I'm still being mocked for not having possessed previously (like salt and pepper shakers), the required Geek Movie of the Season and a range of snugglies.

Now we're mobilizing like a very small stream of refugees, packing up my loot and my sister's, luggage for the parents for two nights, and two dogs (the Collie of Folly and My Own Dear Personal Mom's Own Dear Personal Dog, less wordily known as Missy ShitzPoo)(look for a series of children's books on the adventures of Missy ShitzPoo sometime in the new year. Or A new year, anyway) into one Chevy Trailblazer for a well-laden trip east back to Cheyenne and my apartment. Dinner tonight will be Red Lobster (a new family tradition since I moved to Cheyenne), followed by hot buttered rum and turtle bread pudding (unless I screw it up; tonight will be my first time attacking this particular recipe) in the Nerd Nest (aka my tiny apartment in the Vertical Trailer Park). All of those gifts I wounded myself wrapping (yes, wounded; I wound up with a few more to wrap after Wimpiest. Enemy. Ever. and took some paper cuts as collateral damage in the fight) will emerge from their pathetic coccoons and we'll see if I did as well as I think I did this year...

 But first, waffles! To be served with my homemade jam, which is a hit, and more of the slightly wretched half-caffienated coffee my mother drinks on doctor's orders and which the rest of us down with perhaps rather less grace than we could. Sorry, mom. But it's, you know, coffee! And you're married to a former cop, and both of your daughters are Starbucks addicts... you understand, don't you? Of course you do, because you're our mom.

As I said, every year we manage to pull this off, I marvel. This year my sister got out of Portland just before the storms came along and froze that city down but good (the phone rings, chez Sherrod, every time Portland is on the news, someone asking if she made it or if she's okay out there or if she's going to be sleeping on an air mattress in the Nerd Nest for a few weeks to come). We're kind of wondering if she's going to make it back, but her beloved Trailblazers (revelation this Christmas: she hearts Rudy Fernandez. Apparently a whole passel of Portland gals do. There's a tribe, and their uniform is tight black t-shirts announcing "I (heart) Rudy." She wears hers proudly)made it, just in time to take on the Denver Nuggets in their own Rose Garden, so we're hoping she can as well.

 But first my parents have to get her to Denver International Airport, where a friend of a friend raised my hair very dramatically over this last weekend with his Tweets from inside, and later outside, that Continental flight that didn't make it into the sky. I prefer to think that particular episode pretty well burned up our quota of airline drama for the season, but still I shall cross my fingers tightly when I can spare them at work.

Once she is safely aloft, there is one last tradition to observe, even though it is a new one for our family.* My Own Dear Personal Dad has a bee in his bonnet about hitting all the after-Christmas sales in Cheyenne this year. We don't mess with those bees. They would cream everybody in the Japanese Bug Fights, even the tarantulas.

Here's hoping your holidays are just as happy as ours have been so far, though perhaps less adventurous!

*To give you an idea of the old traditions this has superceded: our family's big holiday movies are Blazing Saddles and the Frisco Kid. We usually watch a LOT more football. And there was always usually a few rounds of martinis and Tom and Jerrys to be had -- though I think there are martinis in our future for tonight.